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Defending NBC's Tiki Barber

September 7, 2007 11:20 AM

Preseason apparently means as much to audiences as it does to starting players. Despite low preseason ratings, audiences turned up for Thursday’s NFL opener on NBC.

The Indianapolis Colts 41-10 blowout against the New Orleans Saints on last night’s NFL regular season kickoff did little to diminish audience interest in the sport. Despite a lopsided game, the contest earned an average 13.0 rating/21 share which was down only 4 percent compared to last year’s tight Dolphins/Steelers matchup (13.6/22) and down only 1 percent versus two years ago when the Raiders and the Patriots squared off. The game opened at comparable numbers to last year’s game but trickled off as the Colts pulled away in the second half.

As for NBC’s Tiki Barber making controversial comments against his former coach in his new book and on air, I’ve seen a lot of commentary slamming the former Giants running back as “cowardly” and “disloyal” for talking smack about his former boss now that he no longer worked for the team in saying that the coach was part of the reason he left the team.

However, Tiki has never been known for holding back, criticizing Tom Coughlin even when he was a player and drew fire for undermining the team in public. That I understand, but as a broadcast personality with new signatures on his paychecks, Tiki was hired to give his perspective on the state of the league, I’d be nothing less than disappointed if he held back. In fact, wasn’t his vocal opinions the very reason he was hired?

NBC sports spokesperson Brian Walker took note of the sudden firestorm surrounding Tiki from the other networks, and drily noted "We appreciate all the free publicity."

As the other networks brace for their new seasons on Sunday and Monday, ESPN will mike up Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson during the game for “Monday Night Football” and have tapped Samuel L. Jackson to appear in a special opening with Johnson and Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.

The company also announced that on “Sunday NFL Countdown,” 10-year old Chicago boy Jason Krause will give commentary in a new segment entitled “Takin' It To The House with Jason Krause.” Company executives are already buzzing about his audition and expect him to take Tony’s place on "MNF" next season as part of a 7 year, $25.5 million development deal with Jason’s agent. (OK, kidding about the last part.)

I've received emails recently asking me about my favorite sites for sports media information. Although I have a number of them that I regularly visit which I'll write about in coming weeks, one of my favorites is Fang's Bites where they literally keep their finger on the pulse of all that is sports media. If its been written about anywhere in the country, its probably posted here.


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